For a lot of people, 2020 is the year we’d most like to forget.
2020 will always remind us of the global Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a year of irreparable loss of loved ones, jobs, businesses, even homes. Shutdowns have been hard and isolating. The grief of well more than 285,000 lives lost in the US alone is hard to fathom and will journey with us into the future. Anxiety, worry, and depression are epidemic too. That doesn’t include the economic downturn, political upheaval, food insecurity, and all the anxiety they bring.
Little wonder we long to put 2020 behind us.
Hope flickers on the horizon with vaccines that hold the possibility that this horrible nightmare will be over and the world can begin to restore some level of normalcy. Still, despite the widespread suffering and perhaps even because of it, some memories are worth noting and etching indelibly in our minds.
Who can forget those daily news reports inside overcrowded hospital emergency room and intensive care war zones where teams of medical professionals and their support staffs continued working well beyond the point exhaustion to save lives, ease the suffering, and comfort the dying and their grieving families? It’s impossible not to notice how many of these valiant warrior doctors, nurses, and medical technicians are women—many at the high cost of separation from their own families, of contracting the virus, and of losing their own lives.
Another group of heroes are the countless school teachers who overnight had to shift from face-to-face interaction with their students to a virtual classroom using evolving technology—some doing both simultaneously. Again, a significant number of these teachers are women. They are our heroes too.
November 2020 marked the 60th anniversary of the day another hero, six-year-old Ruby Bridges, became the youngest civil rights activist and the first Black child to integrate a Southern elementary school. Hers is a heartbreaking but remarkable story of courage. Every school day that year, four state marshals escorted her past a jeering crowd of angry white protestors who shouted vicious racial slurs at her. She later recalled that she “only became frightened when she saw a woman holding a black baby doll in a coffin.” Talk about courage! Some of those protestors were church-goers. Barbara Henry was the only member of the school faculty willing to teach Ruby; her kindergarten experience was in a class of one. Both Ruby and her teacher were leaders and heroes for civil rights under stressful, even life-threatening circumstances.
The 2020 national election was a historic milestone too with the election of America’s first vice president who is both female and a person of color—Kamala Harris. Regardless of how you voted in the presidential election or your views of women in leadership, this shattered glass ceiling is a historic milestone to remember and also to celebrate.
And let us not forget that December 1, 2020 was the 65th anniversary of the day when African-American Rosa Parks stood up for civil rights by sitting down.
It Takes a Pandemic
What all of these women have in common is the fact that they are ezers. The ezer identity is every girl-child’s birthright. No exceptions.
Ezer is a Hebrew military word—used mostly in the Old Testament to describe God as the ezer of his people. Ezers aren’t spectators. Our ezer identity comes with God-given responsibility to pay attention to what is happening in God’s world and to take the initiative to address the wrongs, help the afflicted, and serve as agents of God’s goodness in the world.
If our 2020 circumstances were not so dire, I daresay the evangelical church would be debating whether or not it is “biblical” for a female doctor to issue direct orders to the men on her team or to male first responders wheeling patients into her unit, which underscores the necessity of subjecting our theological conclusions regarding women and men to the most rigorous global contingencies and worst-case scenarios that a fallen world produces. We can’t rely on theology that only holds up under ideal circumstances but collapses under other events.We can’t rely on theology that only holds up under ideal circumstances but collapses under other events. Click To Tweet
Right now, no one is arguing about what a woman can or shouldn’t do. Instead, the whole world—including ourselves—are counting on these women to step up, take charge, lead the response teams, and do whatever it takes to combat this virus and save lives. Our theology should be the first to empower these women instead of abandoning them on the outskirts of biblical conduct for women during a crisis.
I guess it takes a pandemic to show us, first of all, that our theology regarding women needs more work, and second, that as Christians we should be first to fuel the frontline efforts of the ezer-warriors who fight to save lives, to establish a more just society, and to steward their skills, training, and opportunities to the maximum. This is one very important reason never to forget what Covid-19 teaches us.
What is heartening to me, is that women and girls around the world are awakening to their calling as ezer-warriors for God’s good purposes. This is not a competition with or fight against men. It actually benefits them, for our brothers can’t fulfill God’s calling on them without us. We have it on good authority that “It is not good for the man to be alone”—an unqualified blanket statement that ezers take seriously.Women and girls around the world are awakening to their calling as ezer-warriors for God’s good purposes. Click To Tweet
Here is the latest account I’ve received of one more sister’s awakening to her ezer calling, which I publish here with her permission. Her story is much like mine. I only wish I had learned the truth about my ezer calling when I was 26. But then, it’s never too late.
I am writing to you to express my thanks about the message that you have let loose in the world. I am nearing my 26th birthday and this year I have been radically transformed by the indestructible truth that cannot be taken away from me; the truth that I am Ezer.
My life has been rearranged.
The sense of abandonment, purposelessness, helplessness and despair that accompanied my desire for marriage has been erased. I feel seen by God, qualified, commissioned, and content to live my days bravely and extravagantly in pursuit of His kingdom come.
I came across a podcast as I began to explore egalitarian beliefs, and subsequently went through each podcast that features you as a guest, listening to your message nearly daily. A newfound peace and passion has been installed into my life. Once again thank you for your witness and for the questions you asked.
I feel found.
I write to you from Little Rock, AR.
Your fellow Ezer,
To read more see: Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women
Image artist: Bria Goeller; design commissioned by Good Trubble and published here with permission.
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.